Lunch with Juju

A journey through food in Kenya following fresh produce from farm to fork, scrumptious ingredients that make up delicious meals, and healthy options for those who love food and the kitchen!

Surfeits of deliciousness at Sails

It may be tucked away on Galu beach but there's nothing understated about Sails when it comes to big, bold flavours. We went there recently after a wedding, desperately in need of a hearty lunch to beat occasional surges of hangover pain. And we had been a few times in the past - Sails is a favourite, and the one place we seek out when we go to the coast. It's well worth the seeking! Stylishly set out amongst the coconut palms, with sweeping sail roofs stretched over a steel structure, Sails is all about drinking in the beach view - and Galu has to be one of the best in the world I reckon - and enjoying a sea breeze. I ordered a light starter of halloumi and chickpea salad, which was herby and lemony and delicious. Followed by a proper fish and chips in a batter as light as a feather which literally melted in the mouth, and revealed steaming, perfectly cooked white fish. Perfect chips - not chunky, not skinny - and a subtle pea and mint puree together with the chef's homemade tartare and ... well, it was perfect. Just perfect. The kind of fish and chips you'll wax lyrical to family when you return. Forget the sun (or lack of - it is July after all!), forget the sea (no we didn't go in), forget the coconuts - all you'll be talking about is that insanely good meal you had at Sails. My biggest regret is that I didn't have space for pudding, argh!!! Next time perhaps I'll be sensible and start with pudding, and then move on to fish and chips and see how much space I have!

Visit the Sails Website: click here.

An update on Talisman

There was a time when you could just saunter into Talisman on any given evening and pick yourself a table to enjoy a good meal. Today, it's different. The food and service at Talisman have given it the reputation it deserves, and you'll be a disappointed sausage if you go without booking ahead! We recently went for dinner after exercising our laughter lines and stomach muscles with the brilliant Davina Leonard who performed her one-woman show to a legion of fans. Having worked up an appetite doing what constitutes as exercise for me these days, we took our seats and delved into the menu. The descriptions are bang on, and we had a fabulous waiter who had plenty of suggestions and seemed to know exactly what he was talking about. I ordered the Tagliata di Manzo, which is seared fillet of beef with truffle oil, parmesan, balsamic glaze, matchstick potatoes, rocket and artichokes. This was a dish to write home about. Wow. The fillet was perfectly cooked - on the rare side, which I like, but had been warned about by the waiter in case it wasn't to my taste - complimented by the earthy, almost garlicky taste of the truffle oil. And then lightened by the sharp cut of parmesan and sweetened by the balsamic... and finally a crunchy matchstick potato topping meant the whole dish came together and danced on my tastebuds.

Wiz went for the Thai Green Fish Curry, but so consumed was I by my tagliata that I didn't even taste his! He reported an excellent meal, however.

For pudding, because I don't get out much these days and frankly you know 'carpe diem': so Belgian Chocolate Fondant was it. This may have been influenced by a recent challenge in the UK Masterchef championship, where the fondant had to be just perfect and I was keen to see whether Talisman could deliver. Well, deliver they did. All I can say is that it is highly advisable to leave a significant amount of space in your stomach for this incredibly indulgent treat, and it's well worth the extra calories. Especially in this cold weather. You need an extra layer anyway.

Talisman: http://www.thetalismanrestaurant.com
Phone: +254 733 761 449

Ski-eat-ing in Espace Killy

So when you go skiing, you get thin. 

Right?

Just humour me with this OK, because I did come back from 10 days of being on my feet nearly all day (which is like 90% more than I do usually) and I had gained three kilos. That's 300gms per day. It's pretty gross, but as it piled on so quickly, here's hoping it will drop off quickly. Ha ha. #WhatWouldKarinaSay?

Espace Killy is not a place I’ve marked on my gourmet bucket list as a mecca of any kind, but last week we discovered that there are some gems tucked away amongst the snowy peaks. And they beckon and call for you to hunker down in the warmth, particularly when the snow is whistling across the tops of the mountains horizontally and freezing any exposed skin. Luckily I had my number one tastier with me last week, and our round up is as follows: 

La Fruitiere

An extension of Folie Douce smack bang in the middle of the resort, you can’t miss La Fruitiere. Just listen out for the booming beats of the Folie Douce and you’ll find it. Having said that, don’t just pitch up and expect a table, because you probably won’t get one.

We were first introduced to La Fruitiere by Madam Harris and CVL, on a once in a lifetime skiing trip to Meribel. It paints a certain picture if I tell you that instead of skiing back to the chalet after that lunch at La Fruitiere, we took a helicopter. On that occasion. With those two.

On this occasion, we did manage to ski home but with an adjusted centre of gravity after our extreme indulgence. La Fruitiere oozes cool modernity in a rustic chic setting with gorgeous waiters buzzing around in their dark blue boiler suits holding laden trays high above the babbling heads of their diners. We were shown to a table on the upper level, just on the edge of the railings above the stairs, with a bird’s eye view of the constantly emerging dishes from the kitchen. After feasting our eyes on these potential choices, we settled on a shared starter of Reblochon lollipops with bacon. We barely had time to put the milk bottle to our lips (every table comes with a gingerbread flavoured bottle of milk) when our giant cheesy lollipops arrived with a flourish and garnish of delectable cheesy juices. The Reblochon oozed out of it’s breadcrumb shell like glistening fatty lava, and was chased with the deliciously fresh house wine. The bacon is chunky, as you’d expect, and the combination just about sums up Alpine cuisine: cheese & bacon being stalwarts, usually found chaperoned by potato. After this indulgent starter, we moved on to pastures … ahem … even more heaven like. Wiz chose the special of the day – a filo pastry parcel of black pudding, foie gras and chestnuts with a juniper berry jus, and a token green salad side. I chose my all time favourite: chicken caesar salad. Thoughtfully, the anchovies came in a spoon on the side, along with additional dressing for the greedy. It was perfect. All around us the drama of lunchtime service unfolded with whole chickens stuck with sabatiers being delivered alongside the signature bolognaise in glass jars. This atmosphere is magic, the food is sensational, and just as you’re finishing lunch you’ll hear the distinctive bass notes of La Folie Douce start up. Go. Dance in your ski boots. On the table. With snow and slopes all around you in a kind of surreal daytime disco where everyone seems high on the freezing alpine air. 

La Fruitere

L'Edelweiss

Right on the edge of the Espace Killy ski area, Edelweiss is a little known gem hidden on the wooded lower slopes just off a beautiful blue run. The way down? The rest of that blue run… with a long shoost at the end – easy! And then there's the free bus to shuttle you home if it's all been a bit much.

A complete contrast to La Fruitiere, L'Edelweiss is a cosy, typically alpine restaurant with roaring fires and roaring trade. Make sure you book in advance here, there are never any spare tables. We sat in the lower section of the dining room, which offers a more intimate and tete a tete style atmosphere. At first you may not notice the interiors, but as you look around you’ll start to see how much care and attention has gone into the cosy design of this place – textures abound, whether it’s the sheepskin seat pads, the tweedy curtains, the knotted wood, the smooth metal rails or the glass fire panel, L'Edelweiss has got a certain style that can only be described as sublimely subtle arctic chic. So what did we tuck into here then? Well we started with Chignin Bergeron wine, and ploughed straight into the main course. For me, a carb heavy dish of subtle flavours (salmon and scallop linguine) and for Wiz, an off-the-charts carb feast: the mountain classic Tartiflette. I’m afraid he won. Food envy doesn’t actually describe how I felt. I was ready to try every feminine wile in the book to get a few mouthfuls of that gently simmering cheesy, bacony, potatoey love-in, and I managed – just a couple of forkfuls of potato balancing uneasily with melted cheese and bacon lardons – that was heaven. My linguine paled slightly in comparison – the scallops were a bit disappointing in size, although the balance of the dish was spot on – it just wasn’t really what I wanted. So a bad choice on my part. To finish the meal off, we chose to share a tarte tatin with home made cinnamon ice cream. This was flaky, sweet, caramelised perfection swirled together with the cold spice of ice cream. It was an unnecessary but wholly satisfactory decision, an extra layer of fat to warm us against the cold outside.

L'Edelweiss

Le Panoramic

At the top of La Motte, just before the Cable Car to the very peak, Le Panoramic is in an unassuming building that looks pretty average on the outside. But you will go past it at the top of the Vanoise chairlift or the funiculaire Grande Motte, and after the icy cold wind has whipped into your ski jacket through any tiny opening, you’ll be gasping to warm up with a chocolat chaud. And that’s when you’ll discover Le Panoramic.

We went to Le Panoramic for a chocolat chaud. But we booked lunch on the spot. How would we spend the next two hours in this filthy weather characterized by low, flat light, and horizontal sleet. It was tempting to lounge around on the super comfortable sofas in Le Panoramic, next to the open fire, and with the most enormous Beethoven dog I’ve ever seen. Yes, I could happily spend a couple of hours here. And I didn’t even need to worry about a blood sugar dip or lack of energy, for the clever people at Le Panoramic have thought about that and provide you with a small molehill of multi-coloured meringues and marshmallows to munch your way through. Having had a look at the menu though, we realized we did need to work up a bit more of an appetite, and that involved getting outside and tackling the slopes. After a couple of hours of “let’s go all the way down and then back up again and hopefully it’ll be lunchtime by then”, it finally was lunch time and we joyfully returned to Le Panoramic. It says something about the standard of a place when you are invited to remove your feet crunching ski boots and don the house slippers for lunch. We paused: is it worth it knowing that you have to get the damn things back onto your feet after lunch? Hell yes! How many places have you been to where you can slop around in slippers for a couple of hours? The ski boots slipped off with the greatest of ease (perhaps it was the promise of lunch), and we settled in hoping the weather would remain our excuse. Fortunately it did. Already on the table was a saucisson and opinel knife, inviting a taster. The saucisson went down a treat and soon Sandra was by our side taking our orders. We hadn’t had escargots yet, and now was the time. Six as a starter, and Wiz was prepared to relinquish one. Although a slightly raw deal, I was saving some space for pudding. The escargots came with shells full to the brim of herby garlic butter, and a cooked snail carefully pulled out with the escargot fork. They were perfect, not in the least chewy, and in the main garlicky. Next came our main course – wood fired scallops (which I watched being cooked through a window to the kitchen) with a potato gratin, which can only be described as food for the gods, and a perfectly dressed green salad. These scallops were large in size yet delicate in flavor. With slightly charred edges, they carry an interesting flavor alongside the sublime gratin, which had overtures of chanterelle and hazelnut. It was simply magical. We ate slowly, savouring every bite, for this was by far and away the best lunch we had found on the mountain so far. Later, Sandra invited us to finish the meal with a pudding selected from the display of pastries near the bar area, and we duly obeyed her command to do this, and made our choices. Wiz went for a walnut toffee number together with lemon meringue pie, whilst I chose the old favourites of raspberry and chocolate together, all accompanied with a subtle yet sweet Sauternes. We sat a while longer, whilst the multi cultural table beside us swirled their 26 year old red and chewed on a barbequed shoulder of lamb.

Le Panoramic

Le Trifollet

Located on the Verte piste on the way down to the La Daille area of Val d'isere is Le Trifollet, we had skied past a few times, on the way down the slope to La Daille .

We stopped in here mid way down a thigh shuddering red run, with the promise of “bar and pizza” on the signage. It wasn’t exactly what we were after, but the place looked welcoming. It has not managed to bag the best place for the sun, so their roaring trade takes place on cloudy days, which was when we chose to visit. As a result, we got a little table by the door; there was no space on the balcony upstairs. A charming Bourdeaux boy served us, regularly interrupted by a more aged character who took orders and promptly forgot them before "Bordeaux" came rushing back to take them again, secretly so that “aged” wouldn’t be offended. Wiz went for one of his favourite piggy meals – the Toulouse sausage with mashed potato, whilst I decided to try a regional speciality – the Beaufort Tart with green salad. It did not disappoint. The tart is like a well risen soufflé on a thin crusty base, with a loud cheesy flavor though not very heavy. This unexpected result makes it quite the treat, and every mouthful was delectable. Wiz’s piggy was served in a petit Le Creuset still bubbling from the stove, and was also delicious. We skipped pudding, but all in all I would rate this as a safe bet though not especially gourmet.

Le Trifollet - 04 79 41 96 99

La Datcha

La Datcha is near the bottom of the Glacier Express chairlift; it's easily recognized with an outdoor terrace and warm, cosy indoors serving food and drink throughout the day. 

Great for a chocolat chaud on the south facing sun trap of a balcony, not so hot for lunch. It’s a self-service place, with enormous choice, which should instantly bring up the red light. We decided that today’s motto was going to be Liberte, Egalite, Frugalite, so it was time for a more restrained approach to lunch. Having been earlier for the chocolat, we skied three more runs and summoned up a substantial appetite by going over to the utterly freezing glacier, and returned ravenous. I went for the onion soup and Wiz for the crochiflette (SP!). Mine was tasty but not blow your socks off tasty, whilst Wiz’s was more carb fest ski sustenance style, with a bit of flavor but more about the weight in your stomach and release of energy. Very mediocre, but recommended for your frugalite days. Or if you’re not into that approach, just save it for the balcony and chocolat chaud.

La Datcha - 04 79 06 21 14

L'Armailly

At the base of the slope in Tignes Les Brevieres, L'Armailly was recommended to us as a great lunch stop, but as we are based in Les Brevs, we decided to try it out on the chalet staff day off…

Incredibly underwhelming. The setting seems perfect, and the menu looks good. But our experience here was far from what we expected. Wiz went for poulet with a chanterelle sauce, and I for breaded goats cheese with green salad. We were served incredibly quickly, and by the end of the meal I believe that not much care or attention went into our food – it seemed to be a race to get it out as quickly as possible. My goats cheese was tasty, but dry and the green salad was delicious but both lacked a certain je ne sais quoi to bring it all together – a sauce perhaps, or some melba toast, just something that would set it apart from being a couple of bits of cheese dumped on some greenery. Wiz’s chicken was only half cooked and we could only surmise that it had been flash fried on either side, before being smothered in chanterelle sauce, but when cut into the middle was completely raw. We didn’t send it back as by the time Wiz realized, he said he was full. We did, however, point it out to the waiter, who looked a little perturbed and then skittered off to the kitchen. For pudding, we decided to try what was promised as ‘traditional tiramisu’. Well my mother makes a far better tiramisu and she lives at least a couple of thousand miles further from Italy, the home of this pudding. What came was an unnecessarily enormous portion of cake layered with cream and custard, with two pitiful pools of thin, tasteless, custard either side. No sign of any coffee soaked sponge fingers. It was as underwhelming as a slushy piste on a crisp sunny day.

L'Armailly

Les Tufs

If, like me, you’re left rapt with wonder at the engineering of the funival from La Daille to the top of Rocher de Bellevarde, then going up and down it for half the day will mean you are conveniently close to Les Tufs for an indulgent midday break.

After yesterday’s AK approach (aka hit and miss) to food, we were in need of betting on a sure thing, as those across the Atlantic would say, and I’m happy to report that Les Tufs came up trumps. Standing at the bottom of the slope, and just one dangerously easy parallel turn away, is the delightful Les Tufs. In the sunshine I imagine this eatery boasts one of the most colourful and heavily populated crowds of vin chaud drinkers in the valley. With our thin(ning) African (read: alcoholic) blood, we usually opt to be inside, unless it’s a scorcher and even then we get a bit nervous of peeling skin, so this occasion was no different and we settled into the bustling yet chic greige space. A charming waiter (most of them seem to be) recommended a delicious bottle of wine, and we chose: scallops from the specials board for Wiz and a Caesar salad for me. In contrast to other places we’ve eaten, lunch arrived in a leisurely manner – and the lack of rush made us feel a lot less harried than usual. We ate slowly, savouring each mouthful. Wiz’s enormous scallops wallowed in a bed of ‘fondue of leeks’, a silky partner-in-taste to the fishy star of this show. Meanwhile before me lay a quite astonishing plate of salad, sufficiently greased by a generous amount of dressing, but scrumptious in flavour. No less than three covers took place on the table next door whilst we lounged around letting the snow melt of our boots and the feeling return to our toes. The curse of the sweet tooth could not be escaped, and we had a scoop of ice cream each, which was presented beautifully with a large disc of snappy thin praline. Highly recommended.

Les Tufs

La Sachette

Nestled in the heart of Tignes Les Brevieres, this feels like the genuine article. Large wooden trestle tables, low slung windows with snow half way up them, and a slightly frosty French welcome. It’s all too perfect.

Our final lunch. We practically had tears running down our cheeks. We spoke of plans to buy a chalet. Our depressed hysteria ran to such extremes of fantasy – anything to feel a guarantee of return. Nonetheless, we still had to eat. The first, and utterly unforgettable thing that hit us as we bent to enter La Sachette was the completely heartwarming smell of a beef bourgingon that has been simmering away for most of the day. Warm red wine fumes swirled invisibly around the room, seeping into every ancient wooden crevice, and instantly grabbed us with its tentacles and hauled us inside. Although we were sorely tempted to order just that, in the end we went for a ‘light’ lunch of Beaufort Tart (again) for me, and pizza for Wiz. What was especially pleasant about La Sachette was the little extras thrown in. First, we were given a shot of warm vegetable soup; a perfect way to shake off the last vestiges of snowy cold, and then a plate of beautifully plump, shiny olives was delivered along with fresh crusty bread. The pizza and tart that followed could have been pedestrian in comparison, but they were both full in flavour, and my tart in particular was accompanied with a delicate green salad topped with a single, but beautiful red beetroot crisp. Accompanied with a sore head (from one too many falls in the powder that morning) and a bottle of wine, it was a perfect last lunch before departing from the epic and heady heights of the Alps. 

La Sachette

La Sachette, Tignes Les Brevieres

Spinning out on 360 degree pizza...

Have you heard about the new Pizzeria in town? It's lush. 

We stopped en route through town and despite not having huge appetites we managed to polish off a pizza and a plate of pasta each. I was surprised; but it was sooooooo moreish. 360 Degrees Artisan Pizzeria is subtly tucked away at the end of ABC Place, just off Waiyaki Way, right where Zucchini used to have their shop.

The interiors are smooth and chic, mute colours being the order of the day, although sunlight streams through the large glass windows making it bright and airy. At the back of the room, the pizza chefs knead and accessorise their creations; perfectly performing culinary background theatre. Outside, you can choose to sit on the terrace and people watch, or smile smugly as you chow down on your food… FIRST though, don't forget to order one of their delicious juices - we plumped for strawberry lemonade and mango passion, yum yum yum. 


So to the food. The proscuitto fungi pizza was scrumptious; not too much cheese, a great tomato sauce and most importantly a furnace of a wood fired oven to cook it in giving it a yummy slightly smoky charred after taste. The pasta I ordered was home made spinach tagliatelle with lemon chicken; Y-U-M. The pasta was perfectly cooked, al dente, with 

360 Pizza is located at ABC Place on Waiyaki Way. 
Tel: +254 700 360 360

Pick me up at Tiramisu...

Oh this is a 'pick me up' alright. As the yeasty smell of warm bread wafts out, and pop art coloured cupcakes beckon you in, it's almost impossible to give Tiramisu a miss. I reckon it might even tempt me to find reasons to go to Village Market more often than I currently do, given the traffic battling nightmare that it can be to get from Langata to Gigiri. 

Eat Cake - Tiramisu.jpg

Perhaps, like me, you don't need an excuse to eat cake? Right now I'm making the most of that 'feeding for two' nonsense that people tell you when you're carrying around a football in your stomach and actually you only have space to feed about half, since your 'baby baggage' has squashed everything up into your diaphragm. Anyway... that said, it doesn't stop my eyes from telling my mouth that it should order enough for three. 

And so it was that I waddled out of Village Market carrying a bag stuffed with Leo's Sandwich, a chocolate tart (mini), a lemon poppy muffin and a slice of tiramisu... what a peedy griglet.

Leo's Sandwich was an excellent lunch choice, though I was grateful not to have any meetings lined up afterwards as I think I consumed as much garlic as a frenchman on Bastille Day. The sandwich was made on the freshest white baguette, and filled with parma ham, mozarella (though sadly not di bufala, which is my preference), Leo's green (and garlicky) sauce and sun dried tomatoes. It was very tasty, a little lacking at the ends of the baguettes, but otherwise nicely filled and most definitely sufficient. 

Tiramisu at Tiramisu!.jpg

Later on the chocolate tart - a small square pastry case filled with the darkest looking chocolate ganache I've seen in Kenya - was sent to it's final resting place, in my stomach. It's pastry was sweet and held together nicely, not too many crumbs scattered as I bit into it, and then the ganache hit my tongue... I won't go into the details but let's just say it is most definitely the highest quality chocolate treat I've ever tasted south of Barcelona. 

And in Barcelona they do brave things like make chocolate with parmesan, which is a must-taste for anyone who is interested in the alchemy of sweet and savoury.

Finally we have the Tiramisu creation - a light layered scrumptiousness of zabaglione, sponge, chocolate and coffee - the ultimate in puddings when made right. And this one is most definitely right. It's creamy but light, just the right amount of coffee in it to hint at caffeine and a bitter aftertaste, but nicely balanced by the sweetness and silkiness of the mascarpone. 10/10! 

Apparently, they also deliver. SQUEAL!

Tel: +254 702 993 254
Email: tiramisubakerykenya@gmail.com

there's nothing shack like about the food at tin roof cafe

A new opening in Karen is always met with great excitement, no matter how small, and when The Souk's rather disappointing cafe was turned into Tin Roof a month ago, expectations ran high. Instant success is something to celebrate, but also be wary of, for Nairobi clientele can be notoriously fickle. In this instance, I think all the owners need to be wary of is not having enough space for demand. 

Perfectly placed within spitting distance of Karen's epicentre, Tin Roof will beckon you in for a tasty morsel over lunch. Or perhaps a cappuccino to break up the morning. Or somewhere to do your networking and notworking. It takes up the slack where Rusty Nail's closure left a gap, but with a new generation of yunnies (young upwardly mobile nairobi-ites) behind it, promises a new approach. 

First, there's the cutesy verandah area with it's brightly mismatched chairs, exuding the kind of charm you'd find at one of your friend's houses. This in itself welcomes an afternoon of lounging, but if you aren't already convinced, wait until you spy the Ottolenghi Salad Bar. A profusion of health shouts from the table where you help yourself to jewel coloured salads. If you're feeling a little more indulgent, or hungry, there's a great selection of more substantial dishes to choose from such as the chicken and dhania pancake I enjoyed, which was utterly delicious. Just make sure you leave some space for the cup cakes, the sweet kick your taste buds will thank you for long after lunch. 

Along with food that makes you feel like you could go and do a five hour yoga session, what makes Tin Roof really stand out is the atmosphere. It feels like a cross between lunch with good friends and a seaside cafe. Carol zips around between the tables with a wide grin on her face, jollily taking orders, delivering plates heaped with scrumptious lunches, and clearing away at the end. She's a breeze of happiness and is the cherry on the cake when it comes to the experience at Tin Roof. She's also in charge of the kitchen and although I didn't see any evidence of more than two arms, she must be a mega multi tasker to keep everything going! 

If you're too lazy to leave the house, Tin Roof now does take aways although you'll need to sort out your own boda boda man to collect. 

Look them up online: click here.
Call them: +254 706 348 215.
Visit them: The Souk, Dagoretti Road, 200m from Karen Roundabout.

just the ticket: jiko at tribe

I've always been a fan of Tribe: as a brand it burst onto the Kenyan scene with a fresh, design conscious, approach - very much aware of the need for something new into the market. I've had a few Skal lunches outside around the pool - a raucous affair usually with fifty members of Kenya's travel trade in attendance - but it's different when you get to indulge twice in three weeks at Jiko, choosing from their a la carte menu. 

First off, the service is impressive.  The waiting staff always introduce themselves by name and in case you don't catch it, they wear a badge.  They recommend dishes and go through the specials, and are quick to see a plate or glass that needs removing. Being a fan of pasta and ravioli (and using my burgeoning bump as an excuse to tuck into carbs at any given opportunity - aka "I'm not fat, I'm pregnant!"), at the first lunch I chose charcoal ravioli with ricotta cheese, braised onion and sage butter sauce, accompanied by what should be a signature Tribe drink - minty passion.  I defy you to order a second once you've tried your first!  Before your main course comes, a freshly baked sourdough loaf arrives presented on a slab of slate, accompanied by a trendy little wooden baculi with garlic butter.  It's absolutely delicious - beware the carbs!! 

With the edge of my hunger taken off by the sourdough and garlic butter, I wondered whether I'd have enough space for my ravioli order.  Well it turns out Tribe is sympathetic to those who need to stay awake in the afternoon, and the dish was perfectly sized - not too much, not too little - and exquisitely flavoured.  As a member of the fairer sex, I'm not meant to say I was 'nearly stuffed' by the end, but I was definitely 'pleasantly replete'.  

On my second visit,  apparently with no further desire to reduce my carb intake, I chose the nano green pea risotto.  Fortunately, Sham ordered some salads to start, which ticked the health box.  Iridescent green, the risotto is all about the pea flavour, which has been teased out by some excellent preparation.  A small slice of brie melts on top of the steaming dish, breaking up the monotone, and adding another layer of flavour.  I'm a fan. 

Jiko at Tribe
 http://www.tribe-hotel.com/jiko-restaurant.php 
 +254 20 720 0000

 

Hit and Miss at Dari

There's always a palpable sense of excitement in our household when a new restaurant opens. These days, there doesn't seem to be enough choice in Karen / Langata, so when Mouse called to suggest lunch at Dari, the new place on the block, I didn't hesitate. 

Dari has a splendid setting, with a rolling lawn on which couples stroll and sunbirds flit from tree to tree batting their luminescent wings. The wide wooden verandah looks out over this peaceful setting, and gives the place an upcountry feel. A warm welcome sets the scene: this is a friendly place making a massive effort. "We've been open for seven days!" beams our waitress as she shows us to a lovely big table. The menu - a combination of european flavours with traditional Kenyan ingredients - is perfect: enough choice but not so much that you wonder how on earth the chef can produce it all. 

I opt for the seared tuna caesar salad. Mouse goes for the burger, Robin & Michael go for open butternut ravioli salad and chicken with githeri respectively. 

After a long wait, during which we enjoy a fruit cocktail juice, and raise our eyebrows as people who arrived after us are served before us, our food finally arrives. It looks fabulous - carefully put together and presented on beautiful green glass plates and bowls. My tuna has been seared in sesame seeds, a nice touch, until I cut in and discover that 'sear' is not quite the term I would use. This has been cooked to an extent that I could use it as an extra heel on my shoe. Added to which it still has a ton of bones through it - unfortunately this is a major turn off for me and after one bite I leave it on the side. The rest of the salad is delicious however, with oodles of flavour and plenty of greens. Reports from the others indicated that the ravioli was a good, tasty lunch, though missing the nuts that were mentioned on the menu. Chicken githeri was a hit with Michael, but sadly the burger was less than appetising with rather an odd smell and not a great texture. It was send back, and knocked off the bill. Having said that, the fries were totally perfect. 

So all in all, Dari was a little hit and miss for us, but given that it was day seven, we can definitely understand some teething issues. With a little more attention to detail, Dari will be the perfect place for lunch. 

Dari Restaurant
Ngong Road (opposite Chequered Flag), Karen
0724 400849
www.facebook.com/DariKenya 

i think ernest would enjoy this...

Hemingway's Nairobi is fresh out of the blocks, and like a filly in training - albeit one of the most beautifully groomed I've come across - there are a few hurdles yet to be conquered. With a sweep of 45 rooms marching down the hill, this is a seriously ambitious project. And the ambition starts the moment you turn into Hemingways' driveway. Security is taken seriously - a man named John introduces himself, and asks if we have a booking. In anticipation of a flurry of Sunday lunch daters such as ourselves, I have a table reserved, so John radios reception and lowers the bollards so we can pass. The entrance hall is magnificent, with two staircases sweeping up each side, and views out to the dancing water fountain beyond which must be the outline of the Ngongs. Except of course it's Nairobi in July so we can't see the hills. 

The restaurant spills outdoors onto a verandah, and below that a 'grassed' terrace - inverted commas because it's fake grass, but works well. Whilst the menu isn't enormous, it covers most aspects - some Italian options, a few English staples, and a great deal of beef.

To start, we decided to share a Fishcake with tomato and fennel fondue, and tartar sauce.  It came with layers of flavour, topped with a light but tangy sauce, which was offset by the most robust notes offered by the tomato and fennel. If I was going for a light lunch, this would be ideal. As a starter, it was perhaps a tiny bit heavy, but it all depends on individual appetites... 

Intrigued by the many meat options and the Josper Oven, I chose the cut of the day as my main course, which was the Onglet - known in English as 'the skirt'.  Add béarnaise sauce, a side of fries, and some wilted spinach and you have yourself the perfect steak lunch. I have to admit, it's probably the best steak I've ever eaten. Perfectly charred on the outside, with subtle spicy flavours from a what must be the chef's special marinade, inside it was juicy and succulent. It was far too much for me to eat but fortunately Hemingway's have thought about that and brought the leftovers out in their specially branded 'Doggy Bag'. Nice touch. 

Finally, because somehow at the end of a meal like this you find space for pudding, we went for our all time favourite - and often the menu item we judge a restaurant on - creme brûlée. Hemingways goes for shallow but enormous with this pud, and the flavours certainly didn't disappoint. We crammed it in, crunchy smooth mouthful by crunchy smooth mouthful, and then regretted the bloat of our stomachs. Fair retribution I would say.

After all these indulgences, which I feel sure Ernest himself would have enjoyed, we rolled down the slope to view the William Holden Suite. Each unit of rooms (I think there were six in each) comes with its own butler, who is your point of contact throughout - a man Friday type ready to make reservations, call up taxis or order you some of that delectable food from the Brasserie. The rooms we looked at were both very similar - four poster bed decked out in slumbersome looking linen; a trunk at the end of each bed that cleverly conceals a flat screen TV until you want it; a desk, and finally something that would have kept Mr Hemingway happy - an extremely well stocked mini bar. Once you've finished indulging (again) in the minis, your white marble bathroom awaits, replete with swanky walk in wardrobe and all the bits and pieces you would expect.

All in all, it's very appealing... just make sure you've ordered the golf cart to take you back up the hill, especially post Brasserie blow-out.

not la dolce vita

How can the an Italian restaurant get it so wrong?​

The ambience is almost there, the location is near perfect. But the food the food the food! We booked a table at Osteria Karen inside, near the fire, which was ideal for the thunderstorm that careered in to lash at the windows all night. The perfect ambience would have been cosy and warm, dimmed lights and dark walls. But it wasn't the atmosphere that bothered me as much as the dull thud of a bad culinary creation.


Read More

the newly reopened talisman

​Perched on its little hill above Karen, Talisman has become an institution for great food, good music, and a tightly packed bar. When it announced a closure for three months, many were at a loss of where to go for their staple weekly treat. Karen doesn't offer a huge amount of choice, particularly if you're looking for some quality nosh. So the reopening of Talisman has beckoned many a Karenite out of the comfort of their living room, even on as rainy a night as last, when it took us over an hour to travel 15 kms. ​


Read More